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Hissi, Come Blow Your Horn!: Part Two


by bitsy_dj

--------

After a hearty breakfast and a long farewell, Satch was up in the sky, leaving the swamp that had served as his home for so many years. He waved to his father as the swamp got smaller and smaller from view. Satch packed light, only taking his trumpet case, a few pieces of clothing, a bag of Neopoints, and of course, his fedora. He had never gone very far on his own before, but knew that he was ready to find his dream.

      Satch decided the first place to look would be the marketplace, a few miles outside Neopia Central. The marketplace was always bustling with Neopets. Surely, they'd like to hear a good horn player. He landed at the gates, thinking it'd be better if he went on foot (or tail) from that point. The marketplace was especially busy today. Neopets ran to and fro, taking every opportunity to spend their hard-earned Neopoints. Smells from different food stands and restaurants filled the air, causing his stomach to rumble. It had been a long flight and he was starving. He saw a small diner and decided to stop in for a quick bite before looking for a venue to play in.

      When Satch entered the diner, the room suddenly grew quiet as customers stopped eating to look at him. He waved shyly, but was greeted with odd looks. Apparently, Hissies weren't that common among Neopets yet. Satch ignored the stares and went up to counter. "I'll, uh, have a burger please? Everything on it."

      The large Skeith shrugged and prepared Satch's order. The burger smelled delicious to Satch, its moist juices and fresh veggies tempting his taste buds. Taking the burger in his wings, he unhinged his jaw and took the burger in one large bite, swallowing it whole.

      Groans of disgust filled the diner.

      "Eww! Did you see that?"

      "Gross! Why doesn't he chew his food?"

      "There goes my appetite."

      Satch looked around the room in confusion as the burger, now just a large lump in his chest, still worked its way down. The Skeith cook gave him an icy glare. "What do you think you're doing, huh? Trying to gross out my customers?"

      Satch held up his wings in defense. "What? It's how Hissies eat. It's natural."

      "Yeah?" snapped the Skeith, "Well, go be 'natural' somewhere else! I got a business to run."

      The vendors agreed, all voicing their complaints. Embarrassed, Satch took his things and left the diner. As the customers went back to their meals, there was one who had been paying very close attention to Satch. The blue Yurble paid for his meal, then went to find the red Hissi and his trumpet-shaped case.

     * * *

      The day had not gone well for poor Satch. Every time he tried to play for someone, they were either too busy or thought he was dangerous and sent him away. So this is what it's really like being a Hissi, he thought sadly. Back in the swamp, he was an equal. His neighbors all thought his trumpet playing was the best and never thought twice about who or what he was. All the marketplace had was greed and prejudice.

      "This was a bad idea," Satch said softly to himself. He had found a small fountain to rest at. He looked at his reflection in the water as the ripples distorted his face. Just a Hissi. A strange, venomous-looking Hissi. "Maybe Miss Malba was right. Maybe the music world doesn't want Hissies. Nobody around here does."

      At times like this, Satch knew there was only one way to express his feelings: through his trumpet. He ran his wing over the silvery curves. His trumpet would never judge him. It didn't care how strange looking he was. All that instrument cared about was making beautiful music and it couldn't do that without Satch. Satch put the trumpet to his lips and played a few miscellaneous notes... that were followed by an echo. Somewhere in the distance, another horn repeated what Satch played, but added a few extra notes.

      Satch played a few more notes and, once again, the notes were repeated. It wasn't another trumpet. It sounded different. Satch continued playing, straining his ears whenever the notes were repeated. He looked all around until his eyes fell upon a large blue Yurble playing a tenor saxophone. He was dressed in a white button-up shirt with the sleeves rolled up and a black tie with matching fedora. The Yurble looked old enough to be his father. He played the sax beautifully, every note shining with jazz.

      The Yurble stopped to look at the awestruck Hissi. "Don't stop now," he said with a wink. "We were just getting good!"

      The old flame rekindled in Satch as he continued playing. The Yurble followed suit. A few Neopets stopped to watch the odd couple as they jammed on their instruments, each trying to outdo the other. Satch found himself swaying side to side, letting the music move him like a puppet. The Yurble challenged him with various scales and slides, but Satch never missed a note. When they both hit that last high C, the small crowd that had formed around them cheered. Some were so impressed that they tossed a few Neopoints in their direction. Satch and the Yurble smiled as they removed their fedoras to collect the coins.

      When the crowd dispersed, the Yurble patted Satch heartily on the back. "Man oh man! You've got some crazy skills! What's your name?"

      "Satch," he said, holding out his wing which the Yurble shook fondly.

      "Pleasure to meet you, Satch," said the Yurble. "My friends call me Duke."

      "Hey Duke!" Satch grinned. It felt so nice to finally meet a friendly face. And a fellow jazz fan, at that. His eyes once again fell on his saxophone. "You were awesome, by the way! Where'd you learn to play like that?"

      "Probably the same way you did. I fell in love and never stopped till I got it right." Duke's face suddenly dropped. "I saw what happened in the diner. That Skeith had no right to treat you that way."

      Satch flicked his tail. "Yeah, well... I guess I was kind of gross. I mean, how many Neopets swallow their food without chewing?"

      "Gross? Try watching a Skeith at an all-you-can-eat buffet. Now that's gross! Then again..." Duke chuckled as he patted his large belly. "We Yurbles are famous for packing it in, too. Seriously, though. I know how hard it is being the new pet in town. Just give people some time and they'll get used to you. So, you from around here?"

      Satch shook his head. "No. I'm from the swamp. I came here to... nah, you'll think it's silly."

      "Try me."

      "Well... I want to be a trumpet player and be famous like Jazzmosis. You know, play some venues, start a record deal, that kind of thing. Trouble is..." Satch looked down at his scaly body sadly. "Hissies can't be musicians."

      Duke's eyes widened. "Says who?"

      "Says... everybody."

      "Well, I must've been left out of the loop 'cause I've never heard anyone say that. It doesn't matter what you are. If you can play it, you can be it." Duke's eyes twinkled as he threw his arm around Satch's shoulders. "In fact, I know some folks who'd be very interested in meeting you, Satch. Come on, it's almost practice time anyway."

     * * *

      "Where the heck is he?" asked Goldie, a yellow Pteri, as she paced the stage impatiently. "He's ten minutes late."

      "You know Duke," replied Bebop, the brown Mynci. "It's been an hour and a half since he's eaten, so he probably stopped for a snack." Bebop twirled the drumsticks in his paws as he tapped cymbal lightly.

      Meanwhile, an easy melody filled the air as Billie continued her solo piece on the keyboards. The silver Cybunny adjusted her beret and looked at her watch. "He's not that late, Goldie. He'll be here soon."

      "He better," fumed Goldie. "You can't have a jazz band without a sax player."

      Bebop looked around the empty cafe. "Or a bass player. Anyone seen Melvin?"

      As if on cue, a rather anxious speckled Techo emerged from the bathroom. He was nervously rubbing his hands together as he searched the floor. "I can't believe I lost it! Where is it?"

      Bebop chuckled. "Lost the Snowbunny foot again, didn't you, Mel?"

      "Why didn't I get a bigger chain for that thing?" Melvin muttered to himself. "I can't play without my foot!"

      "What's wrong with the two you have?"

      Melvin gave his Mynci cousin an annoyed look. "That's not funny, Bebop! You better not have taken it again."

      "Is that it on the bar?" asked Billie.

      Sure enough, sitting on the bar was a pink fake Snowbunny's foot with a small keychain attached to it. Melvin hurried to retrieve it, kissing it fervently. Tucking it in his shirt pocket, he headed for the stage and started to tune his stand-up bass.

      Bebop shook his head as he peered at his cousin over his sunglasses. "What is it with you and superstition? I swear, I've seen Kadoaties in the dark calmer than you."

      "Well, I'm sorry that I can't laugh karma in the face like you, Bebop," snapped Melvin, "but if we're ever going to win the contest, we're going to need all the luck we can get!"

      "I think I just heard a hundred Snowbunnies run for cover."

      Goldie rolled her eyes as the two cousins started bickering. This wasn't the first time this had happened. Melvin and Bebop were more like brothers the way they fought, but in some odd way they enjoyed it. Also, it was amusing for others to watch. Goldie, however, wasn't in the mood for another feud.

      "Will you two knock it off?" snapped Goldie. "Look, let's just go through the exercises until Duke gets here."

      "You can stop the exercises because the Duke is in the house!"

      The band members turned to see their saxophone player beaming brightly at them. Goldie fluttered over to give him a piece of her mind. Before she could get one word in, Duke gave her a big hug. "Hello, Goldilocks! Sorry for being late."

      "Don't sweet talk me, Prince Charming! What took you so long?" She noted a brown stain on his shirt. "Is that gravy? I knew it! You've been sneaking between-meal snacks again, haven't you? You keep stuffing yourself and you'll end up a plush toy."

      Duke's smile grew wider. "Relax, Goldie! I admit I stopped by for a little snack, but I think I found the answers to our problems."

      "You got us a catering gig?" cracked Bebop.

      "Better! You know how the band was missing something? Well, I found the missing link! Come on in, Satch! Meet the band!"

      The red Hissi slid into the room shyly, carrying his trumpet case behind him. He looked around the dimly lit cafe, then waved at the Pteri standing before him.

      "Goldie, this is Satch," said Duke, throwing his arm around Satch's shoulders. "He can play a mean trumpet, can't you, Satch?"

      Satch swallowed. "Um, I am a little good, I guess." He spared another glance at Goldie. She was tall for a Pteri, about the same height as Duke. She had her feathers styled on top of her head and she wore a shiny red dress. Although she was very lovely, Satch could tell that she had a temper. Still, Goldie smiled at Satch and shook his wing.

      "It's very nice to meet you, Satch," she said courteously.

      "This is Goldie, our lead singer. She's got the prettiest voice from here to Kreludor." Duke led him to the stage where the other band members were coming forward to meet him. "This is Bebop, our drummer, and Melvin, the bass player."

      When Satch went to shake his paw, Bebop slapped his palm instead in a friendly way. "How're you doing, Scales?"

      Melvin smacked Bebop upside his head. "Bebop! Don't call him that!"

      "What? Why not?"

      "Because it's offensive! How would you like it if someone called you Fur? I apologize about my cousin, Satch. He doesn't think before he speaks. I think his brain bypasses his mouth."

      "Hey! Watch it, Karma-elion!"

      "No, no, really! It's ok!" said Satch. "I don't mind. You can call me Scales, if you want."

      Duke just chuckled. "Don't mind them. They do this all the time. You just got to get used to it. And last, but not least, is Billie, our lovely little lady at the keyboards."

      Satch felt his heart leap in his throat. He'd never seen such a beautiful Cybunny before. The way her fur twinkled in the light and her ears fell gave her a charming look. According to her features, she looked around Satch's age and the youngest in the band.

      Billie smiled as she took Satch's wing. "Hi Satch. Nice to meet you."

      Satch shakily shook her wing. "Too nice to you meet," he slurred. "I-I mean, nice to meet you, too."

      Billie giggled. "I like your hat."

      Satch blushed and quickly removed it. "Thanks. My dad got it for me at a Jazzmosis concert."

      Billie's eyes lit up. "You like Jazzmosis? Me too! They're like my favorite band."

      "Really? Have you heard their latest album?"

      "Cool in the Key of G? Got it on the first day it came out."

      "Sweet!"

      Just as they were getting better acquainted, Goldie stepped in between them. "Look, I hate to interrupt this sweet little scene and I promise I'll let you finish later, but Duke tells us you're a trumpet player?"

      Satch's goal jolted back into his mind. His conversation with Billie would have to wait. "Oh, yes! Yes, I am. You see, it's been my dream to be a famous trumpet player and I've been looking for a chance to perform professionally."

      "Well, we've been a band for a few months now," said Bebop. "We're called the Jazz Tones and we're also trying to get on the road stardom. So far, we've just been doing small venues and gigs, but we're well known locally."

      "We're pretty popular," added Duke, "but we just need a little more zing to give us the fling. So, go on, Satch! Show the Tones what you got."

      The old fear crept back into Satch's mind. As he prepared himself, thoughts of the Malba audition flashed in his mind. The humiliation, the disappointment. Don't think of that now, he thought to himself. You can do this. And so Satch started to play reluctantly at first. Just a few scales and rolls to help him warm up. The fears still lingered in his mind and he stuttered a bit on the notes.

      The Jazz Tones exchanged looks as they observed the trumpet player. Bebop was the first to react. He went to his drums and started to play light beat in the background. It did the trick. When Satch heard the cymbals clash, he started to play more confidently. Soon Melvin followed on bass, then Billie on keyboards. With his fellow musicians, Satch didn't hold back any more. He let that trumpet blow with all his heart. When he finished, Billie, Bebop, and Melvin crowded around Satch and complimented his playing.

      "Dude, that was awesome!" said Bebop. "Elephantes don't play that good."

      "Oh, Goldie, we've got to let him join!" said Billie. "He's perfect!" Satch blushed bright red (redder than he normally was).

      "Yeah," added Melvin. "We'll win the contest for sure with Satch!"

      "Contest? What contest?" asked Satch.

      "For the Neopian annual Battle of the Bands competition, of course!" Bebop pulled a flyer from his back pocket and showed Satch. "They hold it at the Catacombs every year. First prize is 10,000 Neopoints plus a recording contract with Neotunes studios."

      "We've been practicing for months," said Duke. "But we just didn't sound quite good enough... until you came along, that is."

      Satch bit the inside of his cheek. Neotunes studios? The same studio that Miss Malba worked for? If she didn't like Hissies, why would Neotunes be any different? Then again, maybe with a band to back him up, he'd have his second chance. He decided to keep the failed audition to himself... for now.

      Duke smiled at Goldie. "So, what do you think? Is Satch in or what?"

      Goldie was quiet as she studied Satch. "You've ever been in a band, Satch?" she asked.

      Satch shook his head. "No ma'am. Not a jazz band, anyway."

      "Well... there's a first time for everything, isn't there? Welcome to the Tones, Satch!"

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


» Hissi, Come Blow Your Horn!: Part One
» Hissi, Come Blow Your Horn!: Part Three
» Hissi, Come Blow Your Horn!: Part Four
» Hissi, Come Blow Your Horn!: Part Five



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